4 Stars / Contemporary / Review

Review: Handle With Care by A.N. Verebes

A.N. Verebes - Handle with Care Cover

What would you do if you had twenty minutes alone with your idol?

Gemma Fox is a self-confessed unlucky-in-love geek treating herself to a weekend at a pop-culture convention on Australia’s sunny Gold Coast.

Drawn there by the temptation of seeing her celebrity crush, Everett Rhodes, the last thing she expects is to wind up trapped in an elevator with him. Parting ways, Gemma has no reason to suspect that their paths will cross again. After all, he’s a celebrity. She’s just a fan who lives on the other side of the planet.

Besides, her life is not a rom-com. (At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself.

However, life has other plans. And Everett – stupidly charming, frustratingly handsome Everett- is hard to resist.

But when things get complicated, Gemma and Everett are both faced with the same dilemma:

How can they make things work when they live in completely separate worlds?

Title:Handle with Care
Author:A.N. Verebes
Category / Genre(s):Contemporary
Trope(s):Celebrity Romance
One Night Stand
Point of View:Third Person, Past Tense, Dual Viewpoint
Location:Gold Coast, Australia
Release Date:27th July, 2021
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Such an absorbing story

4 stars

This is A.N. Verebes’ debut novel and a hugely entertaining story that I very much enjoyed – I’m keen to read more of her captivating voice and style in future stories.
Our tale is the age-old fantasy of many – what would you do if you were trapped, one-on-one, with your celebrity crush? The resulting tale of friendship, romance, love and a happily ever after is something that we could only ever imagine. Sigh.
Our heroine, Gemma, is a proud geek, fair obsessed with her favourite TV show, Happily Never After, and its leading star, British heartthrob, Everett Rhodes. Gemma’s taking some holiday time to visit a pop culture convention – the highlight of which will be the panel with the stars of her favourite show, including Everett. Imagine her surprise when she gets trapped with her crush – and manages to make a lasting impression on him.
I loved Gemma as a character. She was slightly geeky and just a touch awkward – but who wouldn’t be when face to face with the celeb of your dreams? I loved her honesty and her self-deprecation (which never came across as whiney or negative) and how she had to keep reminding herself that her life was not a romcom.
Everett was an equally delightful character and I loved that his charm and charisma were clearly evident making the reader fall in love with him just as Gemma herself does. His true character still came out as we learn his thoughts and feelings making us realise that, yes, celebs are also real people. His feelings were honest – even to the point that he annoyed me with his denseness on occasion – but I still liked him immensely.

“It’s laugh out loud funny on occasion, tender at others and unashamedly honest throughout.”

The magic in the story was definitely the times that Everett and Gemma were together. They built up a really sweet and funny friendship as they got to know each other. The transformation into something more of a romance felt natural and was also delightfully hot! Yuuum! There’s a period of separation for our couple and then it’s back together with vastly different dynamics. I loved those times, too – both of them tentatively working out how they can get what they want – which is each other.
The story interweaves many different elements that blend perfectly to make such a worthwhile read. It’s laugh out loud funny on occasion, tender at others and unashamedly honest throughout. It felt real – but the underlying humour and love shone through. Ms. Verebes’ writing style is hugely engaging and so easy to read. She’s definitely got a way with words and I’m frankly stunned that this is her first published novel. I hope to read more from her soon – I would like to put a personal request in for Sara and Charlie’s story from their point of view. I do so love an enemies to lovers tale.
I debated so long and hard about whether to give this story 4 stars or 5. It was a very engaging tale and one I was hugely absorbed in while reading. It’s also a story that stayed with me once I’d reached ‘the end’; I continued to want to be involved in the lives of our characters and their love story. In the end, the fact that I was debating at all led me to 4 stars but please believe it’s a very high 4 stars.
If you’re looking to try out a new author then I would highly recommend this story and A.N. Verebes in general. She’s got a way with words – and her quirky heroine, swoonworthy hero, delightfully descriptive setting and intricate storytelling make this a downright winner.

4 stars

*I received this book in exchange for my honest review*

Author, Marriage Celebrant (operating under my married name), and mum.

I am a daydreamer, writer, and author of the debut romance novel ‘Handle With Care’. As a professional civil marriage celebrant, I make a living telling other people’s love stories and celebrating real romance!

Also armed with a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), I am a qualified -but not practising- High School English teacher who loves to read anything I can get my hands on, including fanfiction. (And, yes, I’ve written my fair share of that, too.)

Living directly between Queensland’s sunny Gold and Sunshine coasts, I spend my days exploring the Great South East with my husband and our two rambunctious sons. When at home, I’m also a slave to two cats and one very spoilt Great Dane X.

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